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October 8, 2021

Alex Verdugo

St. Petersburg, Florida, USA

Tropicana Field

Boston Red Sox

Pregame 2 Press Conference

Q. Hey, Alex. Could you just take us through the play last night where Nelson Cruz hit the ball off the catwalk and what you saw on that play?

ALEX VERDUGO: Yeah. Obviously, he hit a good -- he hit it hard. He hit it high. From my point of view it looked like the ball was going to get caught right up against the fence because I felt like I had a pretty good beat on it. I was drifting back just a little bit, but when it hit the catwalk, it was coming down, pretty significant drop. It wasn't really at that angle. It was a steep drop, so I didn't think it was a home run like that, but obviously, the rule is the rule. If it hits that catwalk, it's considered a homer. So nothing we can do about it.

Q. Have you ever seen anything like that in your career playing here or anywhere else?

ALEX VERDUGO: No. I mean, this is just one of those stadiums that has that, so I think Mike Zunino hit a fly ball that was -- scraped the roof. It's just one of those things. It's a weird stadium, but the rules are the rules, and, hey, he hit it, and give it to him.

Q. Hey, Alex. What do you think just overall of the way you played this season and how do you see yourself continuing to develop as you get more experienced?

ALEX VERDUGO: The way I've played this season? I mean, I feel good. Obviously, my numbers aren't quite where I wanted them to be at. I think lefties this year I struggled against them, which was a rare thing for me. I usually always hit lefties high average, and I think I just ran through two months, June and July, where I was repeatedly doing the same thing, having the same mindset against a lefty and having the same outcome instead of trying to stay inside the ball and use the whole field. It kept just rolling over and rolling over.

And I felt like since we played Seattle probably -- I don't know if it was September or whatever, but I looked at some videos, and I feel locked in against lefties since then. I feel like my swings have been a lot better. My at-bats, my everything.

With the season, though, I think I can get better at everything in the offseason. This is my first full 162-plus, so, you know, just getting a better understanding of what my body needs and what I need to switch up in my offseason program.

Q. And your manager said you also want to pitch again this offseason. Is that something you're going to do?

ALEX VERDUGO: 100%, yeah. I don't know if I'll pitch next year, but definitely by 2023 I want to try to just be a two-way. You know, not an Ohtani where he is starting and all that. I just want to be a reliever. Come in, help the boys out, something like that, but obviously, I know I got a ways to go, and my thing was give me a year or so to build up my arm strength, long toss and all that, make sure the arm can handle the hard throws and, hey, a couple blow-out games, let me go out there and pitch. If my stuff is good, if I'm getting swing and miss, you know, why not run with it? If it's flat, average, and I'm not getting the job done, then, hey, at least I said I tried it.

Q. When is the last time you pitched?

ALEX VERDUGO: High school. Everybody was a two-way guy in high school, but I felt like I was a pretty good two-way guy, and I topped out at 97, so I feel like that's still in there. I just got to build up again and get back on a throwing program and, like I said, it will be fun to try.

Q. In the postseason every little thing seems to matter, and the Rays are a very aggressive base-running team. They're always looking to take that extra base on fly balls and score on things, being very aggressive. How important is it for your team to find ways to counteract that and cut some of those bases out that maybe make a difference that way?

ALEX VERDUGO: Definitely. It's very important. Like you said it well, this team they do a lot of the little things right, and they don't win 100 games for no reason. So they seem to find a way to get it done whether it's having good at-bats, drawing walks, then getting a key hit or something like that. It's a hard team.

For us I felt like even with the score yesterday as lopsided as it was, 5-0, that score didn't tell the game. The game was a lot closer than that. You know, we had a lot of runners on, a lot of balls hit -- hit really well just right at guys, and that's just the game. It went their way, and the big hits that we needed with runners on were barrels right at guys, and that's how the game goes. Today you just try to take the momentum early. You know, try to get it started off right in that first inning.

Q. Hey, Alex. Can I just follow up on you pitching? What is the rest of your repertoire look like? You said fastball up to 97. What else do you have?

ALEX VERDUGO: I mean, that was what I topped out at. If we were being real, hopefully I'll sit low to mid 90s, and then if I got to reach back angry or something, we can get that. But I had a curveball, slider, and then I also threw a knuckle curve, so that would be my repertoire. I would have to play around. I don't think the curveball would be as good just because I lost some of the sticky, but, hey, I think it would be fun to just try.

If they're willing to give me an opportunity to do that, I would love to do that. The competitor in me just try to maximize what I can do for the team, and like I said, if pitching is a realistic thing, I'm going to pursue it and try to do both.

Q. Alex, I wanted to ask you about Alex, your manager. Eduardo and Christian were talking about how great it is to have him back. This is your first year with him. Can you tell me your impressions of him as a manager, and some of the success, obviously, that the team has had this year.

ALEX VERDUGO: Yeah. I think he is a great manager. He is just -- he is one of those guys he relates to players well. He is always moving around talking to players and just being personal with them. We know this game is hard, so I feel like he has managed the ups and downs really well and kept us on track and, you know, had the right meetings when we had to have meetings, and just he's made it fun.

Like the players said, I didn't get to play with him before this, so I heard some things about him in 2020 coming over and a lot of players talked really positive about him, and so having him here I can see why they do that. He is just all hands-on. Very smart. Knows the game. His mind is thinking a lot, and he is just -- if you ever sit by him and just hear the stuff that he is talking about during the game or what he is predicting is going to happen and it happens, you're, like, oh, this guy is pretty smart right here. All right. So it's just fun to pick his brain and, yeah, he is just a great manager.

MODERATOR: We look forward to you joining the great Ohtani one day.

ALEX VERDUGO: We'll see how that goes.

MODERATOR: Thanks for coming in. Appreciate it.

ALEX VERDUGO: Thanks, guys.

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